That is pretty much what I did all weekend. I went over the first thirty pages of “Hog Valley” – again. Even after  my professional editor finished her four-month edit on the MS. She did a great job, mind you, but there are lots of ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes. Never mind catching the cat in the first place. My experience is that if the cat doesn’t want to be caught you are going to pay a hefty price to get – and keep – your hands on that cat.

Which, as we professional editors say, is a chromatically variant equine entirely. Actually, it’s a digression, but I have always wanted to use that phrase, so there it is.

I suppose one could say that going over “Hog Valley” again is more of an exercise in fine-tuning. Editing your own stuff is not easy, but it is necessary.

I had some help. The Clay County Fiction Writer’s group, of which I am a very new member, meets once a week on Fleming Island. I mentioned earlier that members email the entire group ten pages of their work. Each member then edits/comments those submissions and emails the results back to the group.

This practice encourages critical thinking, toughens ones own too-thin skin, and improves ones work tremendously.

On another subject entirely, I spent some hours over the weekend researching locations for “Twisted Key”. I think I’ve found one of the more critical locations. In the fifteenth century, St.Augustine, Florida, was a major Spanish stronghold in the New World. But it had an undefended back door, via a river to its south. This river was open to the Atlantic Ocean about twenty miles south of the city.

The Spanish set up a wooden guard post on Rattlesnake Island near the mouth of that inlet, and following the slaughter of twenty-odd French Huguenots, named the inlet and the river “Matanzas”. Guess why it’s called Rattlesnake Island. Go ahead, guess.

I spent an afternoon there, speaking with a few of the park rangers and taking lots of pictures. The rangers were generous in the replies to my questions and suggested additional sources of information.

Matanzas Inlet is today a State Park recreation area, complete with boat tours to and from the of the coquina stone Fort Matanzas the Spanish built in the seventeenth century to replace the wooden guard post on the island.

The area is made up of constantly shifting barrier islands, marsh and oak hammocks, and is a popular area for local boaters and tourists.

Once I was back home I got on-line and spent another few hours in more research.

I like it for the history, and how well it will fit into the story.

That was my weekend.  


About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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